Rapper 2 Milly is suing Fornite creator Epic Games after claiming the game developer stole his Milly Rock dance move to make an in-game emote.
Heads behind the online video game added a dance emote called Swipe It during Fortnites season five which 2 Milly – real name Lenwood Skip Hamilton – is certain bears an uncanny resemblance to Milly Rock, the dance he debuted in a 2014 music video of the same name.
The artist filed a lawsuit in a California district court on Wednesday citing the companys alleged misappropriation, use, and sale of the dance, insisting he needs to be appropriately acknowledged.
Our client Lenwood Skip Hamilton is pursuing similar claims against Epic for use of his likeness in the popular Cole Train character in the Gears of War video game franchise, the rappers lawyer David L. Hecht reportedly said in a statement to Variety.
Epic cannot be allowed to continue to take what does not belong to it.
Free-to-play Fortnite currently has over 200 million registered players and generates millions of pounds via downloadable content like character skins and dance emotes.
Though Epic did not sell the emote directly to players for v-bucks – the Fortnite in-game currency – it did class Swipe It as an unlockable emote for players who had purchased the games $10 (£8) seasonal Battle Pass add-on.
But 2 Milly claims he has never seen a single penny of the earnings Epic presumably made from the emote, and wasnt even consulted before it went live.
They never even asked for my permission, he continued in his statement.
I am thrilled to have David Hecht and his team at Pierce Bainbridge representing me to help right this wrong.
Fans of the popular battle royale game were quick to defend the rapper online and support appeared insurmountably on his side.
Indeed, 2 Millys decision to file a lawsuit comes amid pressure from a number of prominent voices in the industry, like Chance the Rapper, who have voiced concern over the way in which Epic allegedly monetises the work of artists without permission.
Fortnite should put the actual rap songs behind the dances that make so much money as Emotes. Black creatives created and popularized these dances but never monetized them. Imagine the money people are spending on these Emotes being shared with the artists that made them
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) July 13, 2018
Fortnite should put the actual rap songs behind the dances that make so much money as Emotes, Chance tweeted in July.
Black creatives created and popularized these dances but never monetized them. Imagine the money people are spending on these Emotes being shared with the artists that made them.
Dear fortnite… Im flattered? Though part of me thinks I should talk to a lawyer…
— Donald Faison (@donald_faison) April 1, 2018
Back in March, actor Donald Faison – who played Dr. Chris Turk on hit series Scrubs – also wondered whether he should seek legal advice after realising Fortnites default dance is a move he performed in-character on the popular medical-themed comedy.
Dear fortnite… Im flattered? Though part of me thinks I should talk to a lawyer… the 44-year-old told his Twitter followers.
The lawsuit marks the first formal legal challenge against the widespread game industry practice of taking popular dance moves and memes and turning them into virtual items for sale.
But thats not to mean it hasnt come into conversation before.
Milly 2s Milly Rock also allegedly showed up in 2K Sports basketball sim NBA 2K18, according to Insider, though the publication says there are big question marks over what can and cant be protected by copyright law.
According to the title, the law doesnt protect individual dance steps but does safeguard so-called choreographic work, with the U.S. Copyright Office saying it views individual steps the same way it would individual colours or words.
As well as the Swipe It emote, Epic has also incorporated a wealth of other popular meme dances into its arsenal, such as the floss dance and Snoop Dogs wheel-turning move from the chorus of Drop It Like Its Hot – called Tidy in Fortnite.
Metro.co.uk has contacted Epic Games and 2 Milly for comment.
Got a showbiz story?
If you've got a story, video or pictures get in touch with the Metro.co.uk Entertainment team by emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we'd love to hear from you.